On Wednesday evening, Jenkins broke his silence and explained the motivation behind that action in a one-on-one interview with ESPN. His other ‘sign’ interview caused a great deal of attention.
“I’m tired of the narrative being about the anthem, about the White House or whatever,” he said following a meeting in downtown Philadelphia with top public defenders from around the country on the issue of bail reform. “The issues are the issues. And the reason that we’re doing any of this is because we have these huge disparities in our criminal justice system; we have this issue of mass incarceration; we have issues of police brutality; our children and access to education and economic advancement is nonexistent in communities of color. And these things are systemic; there are ways that we can change them.
“And for me, I feel like this is the time to do that. And so, that message can’t continue to be ignored. And that’s what I think has been happening up until this point. So we just have to continue to stay on topic and continue to push the issues — and not this narrative of who’s right and who’s wrong, but what are the reasons why players are even so passionate about this.”
“An opportunity, I think, was floated around as an idea,” Jenkins said of a sit-down with President Donald Trump. “But a lot of that back-and-forth with the White House was not — we as a team weren’t necessarily privy to that information; that was kinda going between team executives and the White House. And so as players, I think it was left up to each individual what they wanted to do; they were gonna have some options. But then ultimately, the decision was to only send a few guys, and then obviously it got cancelled after that.”
The league’s new anthem policy, which requires players to stand if they are on the field during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” has added fuel to the controversy and politicization surrounding the issue in recent weeks. Jenkins, though, does not believe it will have an impact on the Players Coalition’s efforts.
“I’m not sure about the whole anthem policy. But I know that won’t affect our work outside of that. We’ve been doing work outside of the anthem since the beginning. Before the anthem even started, players were involved in these types of social justice issues,” Jenkins said. “The anthem protests or demonstrations just brought eyes and attention to it.
“And so for us, it’s just continuing to do the work, continuing to share our message to those who actually even want to hear it, to stay on topic and not really get into arguments about what’s right, what’s wrong — ’cause those are all excuses for people to not listen to you. And so for us, it’s staying on topic, doing the work, supporting those who are doing the work and pushing forward.”
Malcolm Jenkins explains decision to use signs to address reporters Wednesday in a conversation with ESPN. pic.twitter.com/RIeHF9CkHU
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) June 7, 2018
As a football fan I’m completely sick of hearing about the Anthem. The fact that it has dominated the conversation for this long is ludicrous. Let’s get back to focusing on why we love sports, not look for reasons why we loathe them. Preach!